Each new model of the Apple Watch comes with added features and capabilities, and a thriving ecosystem of third-party apps makes your step-tracking, heart rate-monitoring timepiece all the more useful: Apps that help you get things done, get from A to B, get answers to your questions, and generally get on with life without having to constantly reach into your pocket for your phone. These are our favorites.
If you want to boost your productivity, you have to try Things: The app is about as comprehensive as they come in terms of organizing your life and daily tasks, and it has companion apps for your phone and desktop. The Apple Watch part of the app lets you see what you need to do, tick items of your to-do lists, and more, all from your wrist. It's going to cost you, but it's an app that justifies the expenditure.
Games don't usually work on the tiny screen of the Apple Watch, but Tiny Armies is an exception. Its simple gameplay and graphics make it perfect for passing a few minutes of idle time, in quick bursts, and the experience on the Apple Watch isn't too different from playing it on an iPhone or an iPad. The aim of the game is to conquer the armies of your opponent with some careful strategic thinking and some well-placed finger swipes.
Tiny Armies ($0.99)
Level up your walks, hikes, runs, and cycles with WorkOutDoors and your Apple Watch: It features a detailed vector map-based interface for plotting your routes, and it lets you customize exactly what you see on your smartwatch screen (there are over 300 live metrics to pick from). It's worth picking up for the most detailed look at your workouts possible, and the app's price of admission includes offline maps that cover the entire globe.
Just Press Record
The best Apple Watch apps bring with them super-useful functionality with a minimum of fuss, and that's the perfect description of Just Press Record. The app is a simple yet powerful audio recorder app for the iPhone and the iPad, and the accompanying Apple Watch app lets you quickly start, stop, and listen to recordings, right from your wrist. Recordings can be made directly from your Apple Watch if your iPhone isn't around.
Just Press Record ($4.99)
Like many great Apple Watch apps, Pennies takes what is already a hugely useful app on the iPhone and extends it to your wrist so you don't have to constantly take your smartphone out. Pennies helps you budget better, and you can use the watch app to keep track of what you're spending, where it's going, and how much spare cash you have left in different categories, such as clothes and food (ideal if you tend to spend too much eating out).
You can't yet create your own watch faces for Apple's smartwatch, but you can do plenty with the little widgets that show up on each face—and Watchsmith is the perfect tool for getting these widgets looking exactly how you'd like them to look. You can also schedule complications to appear and disappear at certain times of the day, giving you more control than ever when it comes to the look of the interface on your watch.
Watchsmith (free or $1.99 a month)
Bear Focus Timer
We like Apple Watch apps that don't try to do too much or overcomplicate matters, and in that spirit, we present BFT or Bear Focus Timer—it basically just helps you focus for a specific amount of time, but that's not always as easy as it sounds, and BFT does a really good job of keeping you on task and away from distractions. The Apple Watch app gives you easy access to the timer and app messages so you can put your phone away.
BFT Bear Focus Timer ($1.99)
Squeezing down an iPhone app to fit on an Apple Watch screen usually just doesn't work. The best approach is the one that ETA takes, putting the most useful bits on your wrist and requiring very little in the way of configuration—you can see at a glance how long it's going to take you to get somewhere, what the traffic's like, and more. There are widgets and add-ons to customize your watch faces too.
You can truly geek out with PCalc, which puts a fully functional calculator on your Apple Watch (and gives you a super-powerful calculating machine for your iPhone and iPad too). Yes it's an expensive app, but it's actually great value for money if you're going to make proper use of it: Besides the basic calculator, you have advanced functions and features here for mathematicians, scientists, engineers and coders, all available on your wrist. Just … be careful using them during your next physics exam, okay?
The best Apple Watch apps enhance the data you get on your phone, making some of the same information easy to access from your wrist—and that's exactly what Citymapper does. The next time you're running for a bus or squashed up against your fellow commuters on the subway, you can take a glance at your Apple Watch and know exactly which number bus you need to catch or which station you need to get off at.
Overcast is a polished, intuitive podcast player for your iPhone, your iPad … and your Apple Watch. As well as taking care of the basic business of organizing and playing your podcasts, it comes with a host of useful features: it can speed up playback, cut out silences, build custom playlists, normalize volume levels, go to sleep after a certain time, and much more. You can play podcasts directly from your Apple Watch too if needed.
Overcast (free or $9.99/year)